It was in 2018, I was 51 years old and I had just completed a job for the Scout association in Crawfordsburn. After this I found myself having some discomfort when eating and thought I had pushed myself too far and developed a hiatus hernia. My friend suggested I go to the Doctor. As I had a stomach ulcer in the past the GP decided to send me for an endoscope. After the endoscope the Consultant told me I had a tumor right on the junction of my oesophagus and stomach. They were unsure how to treat it so treated it as both oesopageal and gastric cancer.

I was given my diagnosis in September and started my first round of three chemotherapy sessions from December to February, One the 20th March 2019 I had my surgery. Mr McAuley removed the majority of my oesophagus from the top of my breastbone as well as the top third of my stomach. I was in the hospital recovering for 9 days. I had to go back in briefly as my back was hurt during the operation, but it is fine now. In July I had started three more cycles of chemotherapy until September. After my chemotherapy was completed in September, I laid low for a while until after Christmas and tried to get back to work for February 2020, then Covid came. I now pick and choose what work I want to do as I don’t have the same stamina. 

Eating can also be a challenge and I have had to have my throat stretched a few times, which has helped. Issues now would be mainly around the quantity of food and what I can eat. I would also be affected by dumping syndrome and get low blood sugar sometimes as well as nerve pain from surgery. But I am getting follow-up medication and physio care to support me. I have now set up a cancer support group in my church, side by side and I hope this gives me the chance to support other people. I have reached out to people who are displaying symptoms and offered to speak with them.

We asked Adrian ‘What would you say to someone going through treatment now? What would your advice be?’ 

Try and get people to treat you as the person you always were. If you enjoy a laugh and a joke, get them to treat you as you were. Make sure your better half still has their identity too. Everyone asked how I was, but my wife was the one having sleepless nights. The carers often get overlooked.

We also asked Adrian how he feels about OG Cancer’s NI campaign to raise awareness of the early symptoms?

The campaign is so important. If you have symptoms, get to a doctor and hound them for an endoscope. It was a locum doctor who sent me for an endoscope after picking up the stomach ulcer on my notes. I am at the youngest age of people who get Oesophageal cancer – it can happen. I was lucky enough to be in the minority percentage of people who were eligible for surgery, because I was diagnosed early. If I see someone with constant heartburn, I will encourage them to get to the doctors.

Lorraine's Story
"My persistence led to me being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer."
Helen's Story
"When I was diagnosed, we were all numb"
Tom's Story
"It was so distressing and a very anxious time for me"

Early Diagnosis is Key #CatchItEarly

Oesophageal cancer like many other cancers does not discriminate between age or sex and knowing and recognising the signs and symptoms are crucial to early diagnosis.  If you suffer from any of the following symptoms for longer than 3 weeks you should consult your doctor.

  • Persistent Indigestion
  • Difficulty swallowing or food sticking
  • Heartburn acid reflux
  • Hiccupping that wont go away
  • Unexplained weight loss.

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